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Palmyrene
Quick Facts
TypeConsonantal Alphabetic
GenealogyProto-Sinaitic
LocationWest Asia
Time100 BCE to 300 CE
DirectionRight to Left

Palmyra, or Tadmur as it is known natively, was an ancient city located in what is now Syria. Due to its strategic location, it grew to be very prosperous as a center of trade. Not only did foreign merchants came into Palmyra, but Palmyran merchants ventured out far afield as well, the most distant location revealed by Palmyrene inscriptions found in northeast England. Also, being a cosmopolitan crossroad, it absorbed both Greek and Persian influences. In fact, the decipherment by Abbé Barthélemy in the 18th century of the Palmyrene script was made possible by ample number of bilingual inscriptions in Greek and Palmyrene.

Much like other cities of the ancient Levant of the first millenium CE, the language spoken at Palmyra was a local dialect of Aramaic and was written using a local variant of the Aramaic script. It was a consonantal alphabet, or abjad, in that only consonants are represented and vowels omitted.

The following chart lists all letters in the Palmyrene script.

While Palmyra managed to stay independent from competing superpowers of the time, namely Roman and Persian Empires, it was eventually absorbed into the Roman empire in 273 CE courtesy of Emperor Aurelian. The Palmyrene language and script declined as Greek and Latin took its place. The only remnant of the city's culture is its native name of Tadmur, which has survived to this day.

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